MS Misdiagnosed as an Anxiety Attack
by David Lyons for Everyday Health Published Sep 13, 2013
I meet so many people with MS in the MS Fitness Challenge cause, many who are trying to live the lifestyle of health and fitness. People reach out to me from all over the world to talk fitness and training and who want to be part of our charity for MS.
Recently I was contacted by a very inspiring woman with MS, Judy Delgrolice, who has lived a fitness lifestyle for years before her MS diagnosis and who has never stopped to this day. This is her story, in her own words…
Living With MS: Judy Delgrolice
One morning, I was in the bathroom washing my hands, when I felt cold water dripping on the right side of my head. Believing the roof was perhaps leaking, I searched for signs of a possible source. I became increasingly anxious as the dripping continued but I was still unable to determine where it came from. When I realized that there wasn’t a leak and my head wasn’t wet, I knew there was something terribly wrong and had my client take me to the ER.
It was determined that I was experiencing a panic attack. The diagnosis was acute anxiety disorder. As the episodes increased and with no help in sight I was forced to shut down my training studio.
I was a single parent of two young girls, alone and afraid I was losing my mind. I chose to return to the East Coast where at least I had my family.
‘Afraid I was Losing my Mind’
Over the next ten years, each time I went to a doctor, I was prescribed anti-anxiety medications, which more often than not remained untouched. No one knew I had multiple sclerosis.
I began working at the Westport YMCA in Connecticut and trained members including special needs children. I continued my education and took a course to help people with hypertension, diabetes and MS develop exercise routines. I decided relocated to Las Vegas and became certified through NASM.
Life was very good, but it all came to a screeching halt one evening as I was getting ready for bed. I lost my vision in both eyes and went totally blind. I was terrified at the thought of losing my sight but refused to believe that it was little more than a stress-induced reaction of some kind.
The next morning my sight had returned, but it was very blurry. I was still able to carefully drive myself to the ER where an MRI was done. I was told I had Cerebral Arteriosclerosis. I went for a second opinion and I was the diagnosed with MS. At 47 years old, in 2000, I finally got the answer that had eluded me all these years.
MS: The Shock of Diagnosis
After the initial shock, I asked myself what to do? So, I went to Gold’s Gym in Vegas and hired a former Mr. Las Vegas to help me train so that I can experience a competition at least once in my life. Although it was an amateur show, the thrill and the discipline was what I needed in order to forget about the MS.
After the show, I went back to Connecticut thinking I needed to be close to my family yet again. The diagnosis was dismal, and I was advised to live my life as though it was the last day! And so I did. Now, I train almost everyday, to forget! Hopefully someday it will forget me.
I currently train others with MS teaching the importance of exercise and nutrition and inspiring them with my hardcore dedication. Working out hard has kept me focused and thinking positive and I don’t see myself quitting anytime soon. After all, I am only 60!